Perceptions of Welfare Recipient Fraud and Provider Fraud: A 20-Year Follow-Up

  • Lucinda Lee Roff
  • David L. Klemmack
  • Debra M. McCallum
  • Michael B. Conaway
Keywords: Welfare, Fraud, Support, Public opinion


This study replicated Roff & Klemmack's (1983) investigation of adult Alabamians' opinions regarding the degree to which welfare recipients and welfare employees defraud the government. The majority of the current respondents continue to see recipients as dishonest, but the mean recipient fraud index score dropped from 13.34 to 11.34. As was the case in the earlier study, beliefs that recipients defraud the government predicted lower support for government programs. The percentage of respondents who believed welfare employees to be dishonest doubled from 15.4% to 30.0% from 1981 to 2000, and the mean worker fraud index score increased from 4.14 to 7.02. Consistent with the previous study, beliefs that welfare employees are dishonest predicted higher, not lower, support for government programs and services. Social workers should be aware that a growing proportion of the population questions the integrity of those running welfare programs.